President Donald Trump said U.S. commitment to NATO is “very strong” and “we have a very powerful NATO” after a heated meeting of allied leaders in which he demanded members immediately meet the 2% military-spending target set for 2024, according to diplomats and people familiar with the matter.
During a press conference, President Trump said of getting NATO member-state spending to the 2% spending target, “we will go higher.”
“I told people I’d be very unhappy if they didn’t up their commitments very substantially,” he said.
The NATO secretary-general had ordered an emergency session on Thursday after Trump delivered heated remarks at a meeting of allied leaders in which he demanded members immediately meet the 2% military spending target set for 2024, according to diplomats and people familiar with the matter.
In a tense meeting expected to focus on Georgia and Ukraine, Trump swiftly changed the subject to military spending and warned allies that if they didn’t immediately meet the 2% goal, “I’ll do my own thing,” diplomats said. It was unclear to people in the room whether that was a threat to leave the alliance or to change the U.S. role in it.
In a lengthy tirade, Trump had launched into a personal attack on Belgium and Germany’s military spending, according to one of the people familiar with the discussion. “I’m not happy,” he said, according to the person. He told allies that he wanted them to immediately meet the spending goal, or at least commit to a date now when they would do so.
Trump’s comments Thursday dramatically escalated what was already a tense summit, where he spent the first day pressuring allies to double the military spending target to 4% of GDP, accusing Germany of being “captive to Russia” over its support of a Russian gas project and criticizing European border policy as “BAD!”
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
Popular on WSJ.com:
‘Shocked’ by Latest U.S. Tariff Plan, Beijing Seeks Retaliatory Action
Stolen U.S. Military Drone Documents Found for Sale on Dark Web, Researchers Say